The Lesser Bohemians

The Lesser Bohemians 1

by Eimear McBride

Paperback Publication Date: 01/09/2016

4/5 Rating 1 Reviews
RRP  $29.99 $23.35

**Winner 2017 James Tait Black Prize for Fiction**

Longlisted for the 2017 Womens Prize for Fiction

An eighteen-year-old girl, recently arrived in London from Ireland, is enrolled in drama school.

Innocent, nervous, the youngest in her class, she is eager to make an impression, to do well. She meets a man:older, a well-regarded actor in his own right:and falls for him. But he's haunted by more than a few demons:and their tumultuous relationship might be the undoing of them both.

Set across the bedsits and squats of mid-nineties north London, The Lesser Bohemians is a story of love and innocence, joy and discovery, the grip of the past and the struggle to be new again.

Contemporary fiction
Publication Date:
The Text Publishing Company
Eimear McBride

Eimear McBride is the author of two novels: The Lesser Bohemians (James Tait Black Memorial Prize) and A Girl is a Half-formed Thing (Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction, Irish Novel of the Year, the Goldsmiths Prize, and others).

She was the inaugural creative fellow at the Beckett Research Centre, University of Reading and occasionally writes for the Guardian, TLS, New Statesman and the Irish Times.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating

4 / 5 (1 Ratings)
  • An engrossing read

    by on

    The Lesser Bohemians is the second novel by Irish-born author, Eimear McBride. In the mid-1990s, a young Irish woman goes to London to study acting at Drama College. She’s just eighteen, rather naïve, and still a virgin. A few weeks into her first term, she encounters an actor in a bar. An older man, thirty-eight, and apparently quite well-regarded for his roles. What is supposed to be a one-night-stand to get rid of her inconvenient virginity begins to morph into some sort of relationship, although nothing runs smoothly.

    McBride easily conveys the feel of the theatre scene and mid-nineties London: flats, bedsits and squats; parties, drinking to excess, late nights and libidinous behaviour. Her tale understandably includes quite a lot of sex, with various and multiple partners, and many of the descriptions are quite explicit, as are those of the abuse (sexual, physical and psychological) of children and adolescents. Self-harm and anorexia also feature.

    Initially, the writing style means the reader has to put in quite some effort. It reads like a stream of consciousness narrative, like diary shorthand, often just fragments of sentences. The absence of quote marks for speech makes it challenging to read. For the bulk of the novel, main characters are referred to as “he” and “she”, or the Landlady, the Flatmate or his Russian Missus, or her boyfriend, so the reader really has to pay attention to context.

    About halfway, when the lover tells his tale, the narrative becomes more conventional. It is a testament to the author’s talent that the absence of quote marks becomes less noticeable as the book progresses; perhaps by this stage the reader has also picked up the author’s rhythm, so something like “Shame fuses into silence letting the night maraud, killing bit by useless hope of not being the girl I was. Am. She is” is less confusing than it might be.

    McBride constructs her novel so that it is almost as if the young woman’s coming of age tale is the framework for the telling of the story of her lover’s life. The unique style of this novel may not be for everyone, but readers who persevere with it are rewarded with a story that is raw, gritty, intimate and filled with characters to despise, but also characters to hope for and rejoice in. An engrossing read.